Janicki said teammwork was key to Vikings’ victories in final two games

Published 6:25 am Friday, October 29, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles head football coach Dave Janicki is the first to admit his team didn't live up to expectations this year following three straight playoff seasons, including the school's first postseason victory last fall.
He's also the first to take the blame.
Janicki talked all season about how his team didn't have the same unity and togetherness that his previous four did. The Vikings played a tough schedule and committed costly penalities and turnovers, but the fifth-year head coach said the biggest problem was getting his athletes to play as a team.
The Vikings' inability to gel caused them to stumble to a 1-6 start. The one victory came via forfeit from Battle Creek Lakeview after the Spartans beat Niles 48-20 Sept. 17, but used an ineligible player in doing so.
But after losing seven straight games and facing a winless season, Janicki saw something change in his team. The Vikings began playing together and won their final two games over SMAC West Division opponents Dowagiac and St. Joseph.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this season to Janicki is that his seniors might be remembered for not meeting expectations their final year. He said he hopes that's not the case because those same players were integral parts of the Vikings' playoffs runs the past two years.
As the seniors graduate, Janicki said he looks to every single junior on the roster, no matter his position or amount of playing time, to step up and assume leadership roles next season.
With the help of the juniors and some hard, corrective work in the offseason, Janicki said he and his coaching staff are focused on a postseason appearance next year. But the road doesn't get any smoother. Six of the nine teams' on Niles 2005 schedule made the playoffs this season.